The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Saturday opposed the immediate indictment of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minster Hamza in the Rs16 billion money laundering case.

Last week, reports emerged that the FIA had withdrawn its case against Shehbaz and Hamza. The FIA subsequently issued a press release repudiating the reports, saying that the “case has not been withdrawn” and court proceedings were ongoing.

Shehbaz and his sons – Hamza and Suleman – were booked by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in November 2020 under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471, 34 and 109 of the PPC and 5(2) and 5(3) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and r/w 3/4 of Anti Money Laundering Act.

Fourteen others were also named in the FIR under Sections 5(2) and 5(3) (criminal misconduct) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, read with 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

During the proceedings, both the premier and the provincial chief executive appeared in a Lahore special court.

FIA prosecutor Farooq Bajwa opposed the immediate imposition of the indictment, arguing that proceedings should first be completed against the accused.

The court then questioned the prosecution on why it was silent for the past four months and asked whether it was to benefit the accused.

The prosecutor said three suspects in the case were absconders and an application has been submitted against them and prayed upon the court to indict all the suspects at the same time.

PM Shehbaz stated in court that the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) had investigated him for over two years and could not find “even a rupee of corruption”. The premier added that the cases against him were “political”

“All the 14 accounts mentioned in the case were transacted through banking channels. In this case, baseless propaganda was spread. This is a sham FIR,” the prime minister’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz said.

The court then reserved judgment on the petition seeking the declaration of the accused as absconders.

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